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10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on

More Spot-on Superstitions

Humankind has been resisting the urge to open umbrellas indoors for centuries. Is it really bad luck or is this (and other superstitions) just hogwash?
Humankind has been resisting the urge to open umbrellas indoors for centuries. Is it really bad luck or is this (and other superstitions) just hogwash?

5: Umbrella Lore

Who hasn't heard that it's unlucky to open an umbrella in the house? Legend dictates that opening your umbrella indoors will cause bad luck to rain down on you, while placing an open umbrella over your head indoors will lead to your death within a year [source: Murrell]. If you don't believe in superstition, the truth is probably not quite that drastic, but opening your umbrella in the house is still a bad idea. Not only is there a good chance that you'll knock something over or break some precious family heirloom, but you could also end up poking someone with one of the umbrella's metal points — bringing on even more bad luck.

4: Pregnancy and Water

Superstition warns that pregnant women should steer clear of water. Some stories claim that hanging around large bodies of water could cause a pregnant woman to miscarry [source: Deam]. No magical thinking required here — hanging around or swimming in deep water really isn't a great idea when you've got a swollen belly with which to contend.



Other pregnancy superstitions caution women that they should steer clear of baths during pregnancy. While this one isn't quite accurate, it does have some validity. Long baths may increase the risk of infection, so baths should be kept short. Baths hotter than 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.67 degrees Celsius) during the first trimester also pose some risk to the fetus and should be avoided [source: Phillips]. Beyond these two rules, there's no reason to avoid baths during pregnancy, though large bodies of water should probably wait until after you deliver.

3: Bedtime Stories

Given how much of your life you spend in bed, it's no surprise that there are plenty of superstitions out there related to the bed, and some of these tales are actually spot-on. Legend has it that placing your bed under a heavy ceiling beam can bring bad luck. Sure, how about if that bad luck came in the form of a heavy beam falling on your head? It's also bad luck for the rays of the moon to shine across your bed. Again, this makes sense, as too much light can keep you from getting a good night's sleep. Finally, it's also considered bad luck to sit at the bedside of a sick person [source: Webster]. Perhaps because such close proximity could cause you to catch the illness yourself?

2: Stairs

Superstitious folk believe that passing others on the stairs brings bad luck, citing biblical passages where angels passed one another in the opposite direction while traveling on a ladder [source: Webster]. This may be as good a reason as any to avoid passing on stairs, but if you don't consider yourself superstitious, consider this: Maybe passing on the stairs brings bad luck simply because you're attempting to pass someone in close quarters, and one of you could trip or fall as a result. Better just wait until the other person exits the staircase before making your move.

Speaking of stairs, another superstition claims that it's bad luck to trip when going down the stairs, though it seems like it would be bad luck to trip in either direction.

1: Ax to Grind

Superstition has it that the ax is an outdoor tool, and bringing this dangerous weapon inside the home, even for a moment, will bring misfortune or death [source: Murrell]. This one is spot-on; in the same way that it's a bad idea to open an umbrella in the house or put your shoes on the table, no good can come of bringing a deadly tool with a razor-sharp blade into the house. There are few uses for an ax indoors, so bringing it inside is simply engaging in unnecessary risk that someone or something will be injured or damaged. Play it safe and keep axes and other tools out in the shed where they belong.

Author's Note: 10 Superstitions That Are Actually Spot-on

I consider myself to be about as anti-superstition as possible — so much so that I find myself trying to stifle a sneeze so people won't bombard me with "bless yous." Despite my skepticism, I found this article to be a delight. It was truly mind-opening to research superstitions that actually made sense in modern times. You still won't catch me knocking on wood or running away from black cats, but I'll probably try to follow many of the superstitions presented here. I really don't have any reason to bring an ax inside or place my bed directly under a heavy beam anyway.

Related Articles


  • Deam, Jenny. "7 Pregnancy Superstitions." Parents. 2015. (Jan. 5, 2015)
  • Mikkelson, Barbara. "Banana Ban." Snopes. July 20, 2013. (Jan. 5, 2015)
  • Moore, David W. "One in Four Americans Superstitious." Gallup. Oct. 13, 2000. (Jan. 7, 2015)
  • Murrell, Deborah. "Superstitions: 1,013 of the Wackiest Myths, Fables and Old Wives' Tales." Amber Books. 2008.
  • Nathoa, Chananchida et al. "Production of Hydrogen and Methane rom Banana Peel by Two Phase Anaerobic Fermentation." Energy Procedia. 2014.
  • Phillips, Amy. "Can Pregnant Women Take Baths?" University of Arkansas Medical Sciences." 2015. (Jan. 6, 2015)
  • Tanna, Ruchika. "Don't Put Your Shoes on the Table!" USC Digital Folklore Archives. April 2012. (Jan. 5, 2015)
  • Webster, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Llewellyn Publications." 2008.


The Legend of the Mysterious Night Marchers of Hawaii

The Legend of the Mysterious Night Marchers of Hawaii

HowStuffWorks finds out about the Hawaiian legend of the night marchers, ghostly warriors striding through the jungles.